Most people hear the term “pro bono” and think of attorneys offering their services for free to help someone right a wrong.
In public relations, pro bono means PR professionals are offering their services for free to help a particular nonprofit organization with an event or campaign. Reasons that a nonprofit may be selected are because the agency:
Has an interest in or personal connection to the particular nonprofitWas asked by a friend or colleagueWas approached in a compelling mannerHas a desire to tap into the same audience that the nonprofit is targeting
Many nonprofits don’t have access to the marketing tools or media connections that they need to promote their fundraising events. Pro bono projects can generate buzz about an event as well as increase the organizations overall brand awareness.
As I was preparing to write this blog, I reached out to my colleagues to get their input about what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few tips that will help your nonprofit make the most of its next pro bono agreement with a PR agency:
Turn in pertinent information when requested
Last minute requests may not happen, but when you give the firm pertinent information earlier on, there is a better chance that someone will have free time to spend on the project.When your PR agency lets you know that a reporter has reached out for an interview, respond in a timely manner or the reporter will move on, and will not likely reach out to the PR agency again. Remember, media is a very fast-paced industry.
Keep expectations in check
If a paying client has a pressing matter arise, your contact may be tied up unexpectedly. To avoid any emergencies on your end, be sure to work within the PR agencies scheduleSince your agency generally works on billable hours for clients, you may be assigned a junior staff member. This staff member is still in the learning process so be patient
A little gratitude goes a long way
Place the agencies logo on all event-related collateral material.Be sure to thank the agency on your social media platforms.Introduce your PR agency contact to a few of your board members.The agency is just like any other volunteer that you have. Anytime you would thank a volunteer, thank them.A simple verbal thank you also goes a very long way!
At HBI, we love our pro bono clients and believe in what they do. While we wish we could select more on an annual basis, we are confident that the work we do is making a difference in the lives of others. Everyone on our staff takes time out of their own personal schedules to volunteer, so we know how hard our nonprofit friends work. THANK YOU for all that you do to make the world a better place!